One way to strengthen the ties between people is through sports. The Sahara marathon is an international sport which is geared to demonstrate solidarity with the Saharawi people. Through this sport, the aim is to raise awareness and sensitize the world about the 42 years of suffering in a population affected by conflicts destroying their hope, generation after generation in the refugee camps of Tindouf, Algeria, where more than 200000 refugees reside. The event has been going on for quite some time now with the first marathon having first occurred in 2001.
Volunteers from all over the world get to participate in this event which is organized by the secretary of State for sports for the government of the Sahrawi Arab democratic. The marathon is the principal event, but there are a number of other shorter races which include; shorter distances of 21km, 10km, and 5km. The event also gives children a chance to participate in a children’s race. The event is aimed at promoting sporting activities among the young Saharawi women and men and financing the development of humanitarian programs. The 42 km marathon runs from El Ayoun through Auserd to Smara while the half marathon, which is 21km runs from Auserd to Smara. The 10km is from Farmacia to Smara and the 5km extends from Paco to Smara.
To participate in this event, one has to register with 225€; 100€ is to aid their families for their hospitality, 75€ is for the race expenses such as T-shirts, medals, water and the staff employed on the day of the race, 50€ is for the common sports project which will be implemented in the course of the year. The prices are not inflated at all considering that you are there to touch the hearts of the unfortunate few. The participants are then transported to the start of each race.
Sahara being a wide desert, the course is marked with piles of stones, flags and other temporary markers. Along the route, there are series of water stations which are 3km apart and if you run into any difficulty, there are vehicles which will follow the course to help
The event will be held in the Sahara Desert on a marked course running from El Ayoun to Smara.
The Saharawi refugee camps is a well-located area. There are several means of transport which you can use in order to access the area. Normally, if you travel by bus or truck, it will only take one hour from the city of Tindouf in the south-west of Algeria. Also, if you are coming from Madrid (Spain), you can join a charter flight which goes all the way to Tindouf, then from there, you’ll take a local a bus and maneuver all the way to the camps. Just visit the official website for an update about the flight schedules or the Bus schedules in order to have proper navigation routes just in case you opt to drive yourself there.
Organizers of the marathon have made sure that people who attend the marathon, enjoy their stay in the camps and feel as comfortable as possible with the food and accommodations by the families which will host all the participants in their tents into small groups of 4-5.
During the Sahara Marathon, besides from attending the marathon, you can just explore the camps and bond with the families around. You can also buy artisan articles and enjoy a drink with your colleagues. Not forgetting that you can find locutories in the shops.
The marathon will be held on 27th February 2019.
The camps where all the marathon attendees will be at Saharawi refugee camps, Tindouf, Algeria.
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